Social Media Automation is the use of software and apps to help manage and automate social media management. This can include post scheduling, synchronizing posts and content between social platforms, and setting up automatic responses to messages and social actions taken by your followers and customers. Spending time to create automated posts and events can eliminate the need to spend time every day on your business’ social media activities.
Automation and efficiency are some of the biggest benefits of any good online marketing strategy, but be sure you don’t take all of the personal engagement and traffic generation potential out of your posts by relying too heavily on automation. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t turn your business’ social feeds into “anti-social” feeds!
1. DON’T “Set It and Forget It”
There is no one size fits all approach to Social Media. Setting up a schedule and automations ahead of time is great, but be sure the plan you came up with is actually effective!
You should always be checking into your Analytics to figure out the following:
- Which automated types of CONTENT get the best results (Clicks, Likes, Conversions)?
Dig deep into your analytics to see what your Followers like. Do they respond well to “behind the scenes” posts, sales, tips and tricks, etc? Once you find some trends telling you what they like and don’t like, adjust your plans going forward.
- Which types of POST get the best results?
Each social platform has a few different types of posts. For instance, on Facebook you can post photos, videos, slideshows, image carousels, articles, polls, and more. Find out which presentation of your content gets you the best results, and then adjust from there.
- What TIME OF DAY are your Followers online, and what POST TIMES get the best results?
If you’re scheduling posts ahead of time, you’ll need to decide WHEN to send those posts out. You can find some great guidance from other marketers online regarding post times, and then make an educated guess. But every audience is slightly different. Pick a post time, or set of times, then see how it works out. Did your early morning posts flop while similar evening posts did great? Do your customers love to watch videos at lunch? Keep testing and refining your post times to improve results.
- What DAY OF THE WEEK gets the best results?
Similar to the above item, maybe your audience shops on the weekend or surfs Facebook on Friday afternoon. Take advantage of anything you can learn about your audience, then adjust fire.
- Which SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS are performing the best for you?
You’re spending time and resources on Social Media in order to boost your bottom line, so be sure to continually check in on which platforms and activities are providing solid return on investment and which aren’t. Then make decisions about whether to change course.
Set goals for your social media results. Decide whether you want to increase traffic to your website, increase online sales, increase leads, or something entirely different. Write down these goals, and then refer to your Analytics to check your progress on a regular basis. Adjust your social media schedule and activities accordingly.
Another word of caution:
Scheduling posts and then ignoring your Social accounts means that you’ll miss out on comments, reviews, and messages. You won’t be able to respond to followers and customers in a timely manner, which is the online equivalent of not answering your phone. So even if you’ve got systems in place, check in regularly to make sure nothing is missed.
2. DON’T Turn Your Social Media Accounts into Traffic Generating Tools for Other Websites!
There is a danger of relying on other people’s content when you’re trying to create a schedule ahead of time. That means any links from posts are going to someone else’s website! For instance, instead of spending time coming up with blog posts, product photos, and posts about your services and specials, you or your Social Media Manager might fill your feed with industry news, opinion pieces relevant to your customers, or local area events. These are all legitimate items to include in your social feeds, but should never make up the majority of your posts!
- Always be sure that 50-75% of your posts feature your own content
- Nearly all of your posts should either include a link to your website or a phone number for follow-up steps
Remember: the ultimate GOAL of using Social Media for your business is to grow new sales and retain customers (for future and ongoing sales). You can’t do that unless you remind customers what you’re selling occasionally!
3. DON’T Rely Entirely on Robots
One frequently under-used type of Social Automation tool is chatbots and automated responses. For instance, when someone new Follows you on Twitter, send an automated email thanking them for the Follow and directing them to your website or email newsletter. You can set up Instant Replies on Facebook for anyone who sends a Message.
When using chatbots or similar automated responses to social interactions – new followers, messages, comments, etc., be sure to check in frequently that you haven’t handed over the reins too much. You want to make sure an authentic, personal, USEFUL voice still comes through. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re speaking to a robot.
Additionally, don’t let post automation tools deliver less than optimum posts. For instance:
- Make sure scheduling tools format your posts for best presentation
Some post scheduling tools (there are many!) might display a cropped thumbnail to the left of the article you’re sharing, while others will give you a beautiful landscape image above the article title on Facebook. Don’t sacrifice looking as good as possible for convenience.
- Make sure your headlines, sub-headlines, and post text are all coming through well
If you’re using a tool to automatically publish new blog articles to your Social Media accounts, don’t rely on RSS or other auto-push features that might truncate or deliver the bare minimum of your content. Effective headlines and post text can make the difference between a ho-hum post and one that drives traffic to your website and inspires engagement!
The rule of thumb is to make sure it looks like a person actually made your posts (no oddly truncated text on Twitter posts sent directly from Facebook, no weirdly cropped pictures on Instagram, etc.
4. DON’T Take a “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach to Different Social Platforms
Each social platform is different, so you need to package your post content a little differently for each. Not only will there be differences in the types of content you share and how, but the general demographics for each Social Media platform will be a little different. (Find out Which Social Media Network Is Right for Your Business)
The easiest example is the same article shared on both Facebook and Twitter.
Some tips for making the most of individual platforms when you post:
- Take advantage of text limits and photo options for the best results on each
Do a little research on best sizes and formats for post photos, videos, and article Featured Images when sharing from WordPress. Make sure you understand word and character limits.
- Be sure to use hashtags and @tags (tagging other Pages or Accounts) for additional reach
Especially on Instagram and Pinterest, hashtags are extremely important. However, hashtags haven’t really caught on. Tagging other accounts is important no matter which major platform you’re on, but you’ll need to schedule your post separately for each platform in order to get the right @tag added.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Your audiences will be different on each platform, so successful content, post times, and messages might need to be tailored to each for best results. See item #1 above.
DON’T Forget to Engage Your Customers and Audience to Create Meaningful Dialogue
Some of your best posts are going to be “of the moment”:
- A customer taking delivery of a brand-new RV
- A “behind the scenes” sneak peek
- Breaking company news
- A before-and-after of your latest remodel
- An in-store event
- Live-streaming new arrivals
- Coverage of a special event, charity, Holiday gathering, etc.
These things can’t be planned ahead and are most effective when posted immediately. (Don’t post about your Christmas charity work in January.) The most successful companies on Social Media set aside time for these types of posts.
In the same way, responses to customers on Social Media are most meaningful when they happen as soon as possible. Be sure to Reply to Comments and Reviews – both good and bad – in a timely manner. This can help you turn around a bad review, and also help you score engagement points with social platforms. Be on the lookout for direct messages on Social Media and answer questions quickly to best serve customers (or turn a Follower into a customer!). Most people don’t expect immediate responses from small to medium sized businesses, but they will move on after a couple of days.
The right level of automation on Social Media is a balancing act. Use automation to fill your content pipeline and free up time for more meaningful engagement and making improvements on Social Media. And always keep your eye on the target – increasing your business’ bottom line!